I miss the Beeb! Gimme legal TV downloads!

Ok, apart from the obvious fact that I miss my family and friends back in the UK, I really truly miss British television. For me I especially miss the Beeb (BBC) and C4 (Channel 4). I don’t miss ITV/C5 one iota, but then they were always filled with mind-numbing crappy serials. I’ve been searching for a legal means to source or download TV shows, either from the US or the UK. I’d heard that the BBC were running a trial of their iMP service and hoped I might be able to sign-up to it, but I can’t find anything apart from press releases about the service. I cannot find anything about how I should sign up and the press releases seem to suggest that the service is a closed invitation only trial. I’d like to be on it!

Sky Digital are also trialling a download TV service, but they are only offering the service to Sky Digital subscribers at present. I chatted to a guy in their call centre today, and it seems that they have had their fair share of teething problems during the last four months of operation, without the addition of international subscription issues. He did tell me that I should check back often though, and I will keep an eye on the service. For me it still isn’t ideal, because it looks like they only offer Sky Movies and Sky Sports and you have to have the relevant Sky subscription to get the download access to either channel.

In related news, Ofcom, the UK government communication watchdog, is still debating who actually owns the rights to TV programmes – the broadcaster or the producer? Potentially this could hold up the release of many of these TV shows and impact any UK based internet service.

To the future we go, and the Register has a good article about the possibilities of legal downloads, and a system that is apparently fair for both producer and consumer too. However, it looks like I’m in for a long wait before this becomes a reality. It makes an interesting read so check it out if you have the time.

I’m still waiting for Peerflix.com to become a little bit more global in their thinking. If you don’t know what Peerflix is, then read all about it on Wikipedia.org. The short version is that it is a DVD swapping service, but one where you actually swap the physical DVD with others. It has a peer review system, similar to the Ebay feedback mechanism. It has been quite a hit in the US, especially because it is completely legal to swap DVDs with friend, although technically it still screws with the profits for movie distribution. No copying takes place and as a bonus, you don’t end up with a library of DVDs that you never watch again!

Ok, so what’s the outlook for internet TV and movies? Pretty bleak I reckon. I could ask my friends or family to video tape UK TV shows and snail mail them over here. Otherwise I’m officially denied from getting legal access to UK and US TV shows, mainly because Germans have an annoying habit of dubbing almost everything. That leaves me with two options, the first bring the illegal use of Bittorrent in conjunction with a Swedish Bitorrent tracker site called ThePirateBay.org, who seem intent on pissing of the RIAA and MPAA. As a side note it seems that they are here to stay for the time being, until the Swedes change their copyright laws. Also it should be noted that video taping a show and sending it to someone else is just as illegal as downloading it – although slightly harder to get caught by the MPAA for doing so!

If anyone can suggest any good sources of legal downloads then feel free to comment. I’ve come across several streaming TV websites during my search for legal TV access in English, but can anyone shed any light upon the legality of such sites as Stream TVwwitv.com and TVCentral.org sites? Some of them don’t look 100% legal to me, but I could be wrong. Thoughts?

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Ben Powell

Ben Powell was born in Wales and after living in several European countries is now resident in Germany. He is a frequent blogger, software developer and a social techie.

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